Sustainability is defined on a broad level as meeting the needs of today, without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their needs. In this definition sustainability can mean many different things and has a much wider remit than the traditional view of environmental issues such as climate change and GHG emissions.
Often sustainable practices can be seen to be in opposition to each other, and this is particularly prevalent in the animal feed/animal production industry. For example, for improved animal welfare, slower growth rates, more extensive systems, compulsory grazing periods may be at odds with efficiency in terms of feed conversion rates and higher GHG emissions. In this way, sustainability means different things to different people, industries, countries, systems, and there is no wrong or right approach so long as a contribution to a sustainable future can be made and measured. There are improvements to be made in all systems, regardless of how ‘sustainable’ they appear on the surface, and there is an argument for the feed industry to be more transparent and vocal about the benefits of animal production for the sustainability of the planet.
Asia, and in particular SE Asian countries, are large importers of animal feed ingredients, particularly protein. These countries typically produce crops for human consumption such as rice, and therefore the responsible sourcing of animal feed ingredients such as corn and soy is a key priority, to ensure deforestation targets in the producing companies are met, particularly in view of recent global crises impacting traditional trade flows. In addition, technology aimed at better utilisation of agricultural by-products in animal feed and alternative sources of protein; insect protein production is a good example of new technology and is increasing rapidly in Asia, not only providing a solution to food waste (used to feed the insect lava) but also producing a local source of animal feed protein on a relatively small area of land, thus contributing to sustainability objectives.